Was My Line: Inside Eisenhower’s Other

by Ralph Hauenstein and Donald Markle.
Hippocrene Books
(New York), 182 pp., $24.95 cloth, 2005.

book cover imageThere
cannot be many WWII veterans still active in public life
like Ralph Hauenstein: nearly ninety-four years of age, Hauenstein
still works on a daily basis in his Grand Rapids community.
With clear, blue eyes; firm, masculine face; and an easy,
unpretentious but formal manner, Hauenstein’s mind
is as quick as his memory is acute. He has a repository of
stories ranging from how—when the need arose—a
past relative of his once volunteered as executioner of a
man “whom he didn’t really like anyway” in
Michigan’s last case of public hanging, to his role
as a lay observer to the Second Vatican Council and of the “forceful” ways
of Hans Küng at the council.

Donald Markle, an historian and long-time member of the
U. S. Department of Defense Intelligence, based Intelligence
was My Line
, an account of Hauenstein’s remarkable
life, on a series of interviews. Markle confirmed the interviews
through independent research, though perhaps the best confirmatory
source never existed: Haunestein was unable to keep a diary
during his time of service for security reasons. Hauenstein
joined the U.S. Army and worked in intelligence during the
prewar deployment of U.S. soldiers to Iceland (1941) to defend
that country against the Germans. While stationed on that
barren, rocky island, Mr. Hauenstein led an expedition to
the site of a downed German aircraft. After searching the
plane, his party discovered a German codebook. Hauenstein
immediately crossed the Norwegian Sea on a B-24 bomber to
deliver the book to British code breakers. His find proved
to be a major asset in deciphering German messages.

Eventually rising tothe rank of colonel, Hauenstein served
under General Dwight Eisenhower as Chief of the Intelligence
Branch in the Army’s European Theater of Operations.
He trained field agents and gathered information from all
possible sources to support efforts such as the Normandy
invasion. Toward the war’s end, Hauenstein was one
of the first Americans to enter liberated Paris and Nazi
concentration camps.

This book introduces the reader, through Hauenstein’s
own experiences, to aspects of the Second World War that
perhaps are not that well known. These include the role of
U.S. troops in Iceland before America officially joined the
war, and the unsung but crucial activities of the U.S. Command
known as the European Theater of Operations, U.S. Army (ETOUSA),
established by General Eisenhower as the central command
element for the U.S. Army. The Supreme Headquarters, Allied
Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) Command was the multinational
command headed by Eisenhower; ETOUSA was his “other” command—as
mentioned in the title of the book—which served as
the “Pentagon” for U.S. Army forces in Europe.

Intelligence Was My Line includes the commencement
address given by Hauenstein to the 2004 graduating class
of Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
In this address, “Leadership and Service: What Are
the Odds You Will Make a Difference?” Hauenstein comments
on the pessimism he encounters among young people today concerning
society and their role in it; “the odds are not good,” they
say. “‘The odds are not good?’ My first
response [Hauenstein says] to that statement is, ‘The
odds according to whom?’ He continues: “Along
with all the little inconveniences of advancing age comes
one very distinct advantage: a historic perspective. That
is what I bring you today. As both a student of and a participant
in history, I encourage you to join me in examining some
of the long odds throughout our country’s past.” He
goes on to speak of the character of George Washington and
then the Civil War, and remarks: “America has defied
the odds because we Americans—individual citizens like
you and me—have defied the odds. Those who are dedicated,
who are courageous, who are visionary; those who hold fast
to their ideals; those who don’t lose faith—these
are the Americans who make a difference, who livegood lives
of leadership and service.”

The potential for the individual human being to make a difference
in history: this is an underlying theme of Mr. Hauenstein’s
life and book. Fernand Braudel, the great French historian
and author of The Mediterranean (1949), once wrote: “When
I think of the individual, I am always inclined to see him
imprisoned within a destiny in which he himself has little
hand.” Hauenstein would surely not agree with such
a position. Gaining insight into the importance of human
choice is one of the great benefits of reading military history.
Whether through the pages of Plutarch on Alexander the Great,
or by the story of the young nobleman François-Athanase
Charette, a leader of the uprising in the Catholic Vendée
region of France during the French Revolution, examples of
leadership and honorable choices made by individuals greatly
attracted my students. Ralph Hauenstein continues his work
of inspiring the rising generation to civic responsibility
through the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies, based
at Grand Valley State University in Michigan.

This fine book will be of great interest to scholars and
the general reader of works on the Second World War. It includes
pictures, maps, and afterthoughts about Hauenstein’s
reflections (as a member of U.S. Intelligence) on how much
President Eisenhower knew concerning America’s nuclear

Joseph T. Stuart is a Wilbur Fellow at the Russell Kirk
Center for Cultural Renewal in Mecosta, Michigan; he will
begin Ph.D. studies in history at the University of Edinburgh
this autumn.